When you become a parent for the first time, it's totally as you'd expect... it's magical, your heart bursts with love, and you feel so lucky to finally have your beautiful little bundle of joy in your arms.
But what you won't read about in most books, or what most of your Mum friends won't tell you, is that being a parent is the hardest thing you will ever do. Not when you expect it at say age 2; when your child suddenly has tantrums over an empty yoghurt pot (so I'm told!), but in the first 20 months of your child's life. There will be times where you can't work out what they need from you; you've done everything possible and they are 'crying for no reason'. They seem distressed, and you, their protector and provider, are unable to do anything about it. You feel guilty, exhausted, worried, and even aggression towards the situation...
Well, I'm here to tell those of you who haven't yet heard - it IS for a reason!
One of the best bits of motherhood for me has been building up networks of amazing Mums who are just like me - muddling through and hoping we're not failing every single day. One of the Mums I speak to regularly was sharing her frustration with me as her baby was having an incredibly fussy day where baby just would not settle. We were both in the same boat. But... there was one crucial difference. She knew all about 'The Wonder Weeks'.
During the first 20 months of life, babies go through obvious physical growth spurts - one day their nappies fit, the next, they don't! What my friend knew was that they also have mental development 'leaps'. 'The Wonder Weeks' is a book (and an app which I highly recommend) based on research, which details these 'leaps', all 10 of them!
The reason for the fussiness during these phases, is that there babies go through sudden, drastic changes in their development which are incredibly upsetting for them. They can wake up from a nap or in the morning and everything looks or feels very different. It's bewildering to them. Imagine how strange that must be!
But these changes enable babies to learn 'new skills'. The fact your baby can now confidently pick something up after perceiving how far away it is... yep, that's a new skill enabled by a development leap. So whilst these leaps can be incredibly difficult as a parent, it's actually a sign that all is well with baby - and you're not alone! This happens to all babies!
So, what are the signs to look out for?
The actual dates that these difficult weeks will occur varies from baby to baby and it depends on your babies due date rather than when they were actually born. It's worth downloading The Wonder Weeks app as it can give you 'an alarm', a notification in your calendar, as to when your little one is starting one of these fussy periods.
However it's important to note that just because baby is going through one of these 'fussy stages', doesn't mean that you can just leave them to cry and 'it's okay, they're in a leap'. In fact it's quite the opposite. Your baby will need you more and that's totally okay. Ignore anyone who tells you that you should let your baby 'cry it out', because as recent research shows, this is incredibly damaging to a child.
I've put together a free resource for you which details wonder week by wonder week, what sensory play ideas might be ideal for your little one. From using our foil blanket when they discover their hands and feet, to playing with our rattles and bell rattles when they can suddenly perceive distance! There's something for every leap!